Blue Jays: The pros and cons of signing Jurickson Profar

St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres
St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres / Rob Leiter/GettyImages

The Blue Jays lineup that takes the field on Opening Day will look vastly different from the one that suffered a crushing playoff defeat last October.

It’s been a busy offseason for General Manager Ross Atkins and the Blue Jays front office. Gone are Teoscar Hernández, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Ross Stripling. In their place come Daulton Varsho, Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Belt, and Chris Bassitt. The Blue Jays' lineup is now deeper and more balanced than it was in 2022.

But is it enough? With a month to go before players begin converging on Dunedin for the start of Spring Training, there is still plenty of time for the Blue Jays to make additional moves and bolster a roster that has legitimate aspirations for a deep postseason run.

One name that remains on the market is Jurickson Profar. The nine-year veteran declined a $7.5M player option to remain with the San Diego Padres and instead accepted a $1M buyout to test free agency for the first time in his career.

He would give the Blue Jays one important attribute: versatility. Profar spent all of last season playing left field for the Padres, but in 2021 he played at least 20 games at all three outfield positions. He came up to the big leagues with the Texas Rangers a decade ago as a middle infielder and has played every position on the field except catcher.

Profar is also a switch-hitter, with more power on the left side but a better ability to put the ball in play from the right. In 2022, 12 of his 15 home runs came while batting left-handed; while batting right-handed, his batting average was 22 points higher and his OPS increased by 16 points.

Profar was a valuable contributor to a Padres club that was on the cusp of the World Series a year ago, exactly where the Blue Jays want to be going forward. He ranked 24th among outfielders in WAR last season. He was more valuable than Hernández, Justin Turner, and Anthony Rizzo. He had a higher WAR than Josh Bell, who signed a $33M deal with the Cleveland Guardians earlier this offseason.

Profar would be able to fill any role the Blue Jays ask him to. He can play any position, giving one of the regular starters a much-needed day off. He can play against both left-handers and right-handers. He would give the club the type of balance and depth they’ve spent the offseason trying to accumulate.

Whether he’s ready to take on that role, however, is the biggest impediment to the Blue Jays signing him. The Blue Jays appear set at every position, from Varsho, Kiermaier, and George Springer in the outfield to their returning starters in the infield. Profar, who appeared in a career-high 152 games with the Padres last season, may not want to accept a role that would necessarily be part-time. Profar will be just 30 years old by Opening Day; his days as a regular starter aren’t over yet. The Blue Jays can’t guarantee him that.

An offseason of deal-making has also left the Blue Jays with little financial flexibility left. The club is already projected to be $9M above the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. Spotrac projects Profar is worth around $14.9M per season. The Blue Jays don’t have that money to spend if they want to avoid going too far over the luxury tax.

Profar fits with the goals the Blue Jays set this offseason. He’s adaptable and reliable. But whether there is a spot for him in an already-transformed roster is something the front office will have to decide.

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